World-Building Wonders – The Gliding Lands

Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find an escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is Deanna Fugett.

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Life is precious to me. I wanted to emphasis that in my writing. In my story Ending Fear, there is a place called The Gliding Lands where they do not value life. Much like communist China, the Uppers are only allowed to have one child (this has recently been changed in China, but for many years this was law). In the world I created, if you try to sneak a second baby into the world, it will get thrown over the edge of the Gliding Lands, only to fall hundreds of feet to the earth below. Pretty horrific, am I right? And heaven forbid you get to keep and raise your own children. That’s what the governments for. It takes a village and all that jazz.

In The Gliding Lands you must surrender your baby to the PediaLab where they then will determine whether your baby is fit for society, or to be thrown over the edge like a piece of trash. Only beautiful and wanted babies will be kept. My main character is a fourteen year old girl named Fear, who was one of these babies. Only she was one of the lucky ones. She was a parachute baby.

This is where our own society is headed if we fail to address that all life, no matter what, is truly precious in God’s sight. Wanted, unwanted, beautiful, disfigured, every person has a purpose and everyone is sent to earth for a reason. God don’t make no junk.

The Bible says there are darker days to come. This epidemic won’t get any better. In fact with each passing year it has gotten worse. In the end times people will go so far in their sin it will be unthinkable, but by then it will be completely normalized to a society that has been totally desensitized. It made me realize I had to show what our world would look like, or at least my imagined version of it. Where life is almost completely unvalued. That’s part of the reason why I created The Gliding Lands and the Uppers who live there. To expose the evil in our hearts. The evil that is already prevalent in our society and the world as a whole.

I hope my book Ending Fear and the world I’ve created will shed some light on the subject of the sanctity of life and cause people to pause and think: Isn’t there value in every life?

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While Deanna Fugett isn’t writing or connecting with others via social media, she can be found cleaning up after playing with her four kids or cooking dinner rubbing her husband’s shoulders, because she’s nice like that. Her favorite TV shows are Once Upon a Time and Arrow, and she frequently revisits every nerd’s favorite show, Firefly. She might even have a weird crush on Simon. Deanna has an endless TBR list and has numerous books she’s started reading lying around the house, none of which she can find time to finish. She is off-the-wall excited about her debut novel coming out with Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing this year, a YA Dystopian called Ending Fear. It is the first novel in the Gliding Lands series, and she really hopes you will buy it and enjoy every second of it.

Deanna Fugett blogs at Quills and Inkblotts

You can also find her at these locations: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads

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Living in a sin infested future, Fear, a fourteen year old girl, learns she was dumped over the edge of the Gliding Land as an infant.

Kicked out of her hovel due to her mother’s own insanity, Fear finds strangers willing to take her in and show her love. Surely they can’t be trusted. 

World-Building Wonders – Animal Research Inspires Cultures

Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find an escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is Terri Luckey.

I’ve had several compliments on my world building in the Kayndo series and I’m often asked how I came up with everything. The answer is three-fold. I dreamed some, I did research, and I let my imagination run wild.

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In my dream, wars wrought planet wide destruction of civilization, and a white wolf came to help the few survivors left. Those survivors formed clans with animal companions and banished technology.

I researched tribal cultures, animal behaviors, weapons, edible plants, healing plants, etc., and incorporated that into the books. You can find more information on healing plants and edible plants can be found at my website.

Some of my tribal names are based on animal scientific names. In Wolf Clan the people are Calupi, in Horse clan they are called Kwin, Fox clan are the Valupi, Eagle clan are Accipi, etc. Throughout the Kayndo Trilogy, I introduce these clans and the unique aspects of their cultures that are heavily influenced by the animals they live with.

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My main character is Dayvee. He’s Calupi, and lives in Wolf Clan. Like wolves, Calupi are status conscious and their rank is judged by their worth to the pack. How well someone can hunt, gather, and fight to defend the pack affects their rank. A wild wolf pack has Alpha, Beta and Omega members. It’s the same in Wolf Clan. Dayvee’s father is their Alpha leader. Dayvee’s uncle is one of the next highest ranked, a Beta. Omegas have the least status. A Calupi can challenge someone of higher rank to a fight to gain more status, but if they lose the fight their rank will fall.

In book one of the series, Dayvee thinks if he gains enough status, his father will be proud and might even come to love him. A red fringe on a weapons pouch is a mark of distinction and earned by risking your life to save another. Unfortunately, Dayvee loses his red fringe and receives the white fringe of an Omega, given to a Calupi who puts other pack members in danger. Omegas get all the worst chores and are often picked on. Most Calupi think Omega’s should be miserable so they learn a lesson. Dayvee’s willing to do just about anything to gain status. Find out in Ring of Death how far he’ll go.

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Before writing the Kayndo series, Terri Luckey wrote for newspapers, radio, and television. Her job titles have included Reporter, Advertising Script Writer, Promotions writer, News Editor, Managing Editor and Continuity Director.

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After wars burned their world, sixteen-year-old Dayvee has only his knife and chakram to survive the clan’s training, the wilderness, and threats like mountain lions…but his malicious training leader, Nero is out for blood. His hatred will test Dayvee’s resolve, courage, and friendships. But even deeper trouble than Nero brews in the kingdom of Taluma and a Kayndo–an animal master–may need to rise to defeat it.

The Kayndo series has received excellent reviews and today only the first book, Ring of Death, is free to download on Kindle!

World-Building Wonders – Mystics as Conduits of God’s Power

Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find an escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is Laurie Lucking.

When I began the first draft of my current work-in-progress, I encountered a problem. I had a strong sense that I wanted to include Christian themes in my story, but the plot I had outlined also involved the scheming of a dark sorcerer. As a Christian, I didn’t feel comfortable having any of the “good guys” in my book practicing magic, at least the way we define it in our world, but how else could the sorcerer be defeated?

I started thinking about different ways in which God might exert His influence in such a situation. Throughout history, God has worked through so many individuals and groups to accomplish feats far beyond what humans acting on their own would be capable of. How better to overcome a dark force than with God’s ultimate power, right? But I had to figure out a way to weave it into my manuscript that didn’t feel too simple or contrived.

I found the answer in my Catholic roots. Growing up, I always enjoyed studying the saints – ordinary people who reflected God’s glory in a variety of extraordinary ways. A particular group of saints provided the inspiration I needed for my story: mystics. In Christian tradition, mystics are people who separated themselves from earthly pleasures, often living in solitude, in order to achieve greater union with God. At the height of such union, God might grant the mystic a vision or revelation “to strengthen and guide them in their mission within the Church” (Mystics of the Church).

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In my WIP, my main character is taken in by what she initially considers to be an unusual group of nuns who live in seclusion and spend the majority of their time in contemplative prayer. But she notes odd comments about visions and hints that these women seem to have knowledge beyond what they should be privy to in their cloistered state. In their final confrontation with the sorcerer, I made use of my creative license as a fantasy writer to take the concept of mystics one step further. Not only have the mystics foreseen aspects of the battle, but they are also able to draw on their amplified union with God to perform mighty deeds in His name. By acting as conduits for God’s power, they manage to overcome the sorcerer’s dark magic, though not without personal sacrifice.

I hope I’ve achieved a satisfactory balance of combining historical traditions of mystics with additional characteristics that make them better suited to my fantasy realm. Either way, I’ve had a lot of fun writing about this devout group of sorcerer-fighting nuns!

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An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up until nearly midnight begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as a lawyer to become a stay-at-home mom. She is an aspiring author of Christian YA romantic fantasy and co-founder of Lands Uncharted, a blog for fans of clean YA fantasy. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her work in progress, With You It Would Remain, by visiting LaurieLucking.com .

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With You It Would Remain: Leah, a chambermaid at the royal palace of Imperia, has maintained a secret friendship with Prince Raphael ever since they stumbled upon the same closet hideout as children. But just as a hint of romance steals into their relationship, the king and queen announce Rafe’s engagement to a foreign princess. Leah’s attempts to unravel the princess’s secrets culminate in a battle against an evil sorcerer in which she must rely on the aid of an unusual group of nuns to protect her country and dearest friend.

World-Building Wonders – Using Historical Details

Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find an escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is Heather Elliot.

In 10th grade, I wrote three 90+ page novels and two 60+ page shorter stories, all of them set during World War Two. I learned several things from that experience:

  1. A) How to touch type.
  2. B) History is the coolest thing ever.
  3. C) My imagination is too big to cram into the box of strict historical fiction.
  4. D) Anything I wrote at age fifteen will never see daylight again.

I have been researching, outlining, writing and rewriting my current novel for the last five years. Halfway through the rough draft I figured out who the titular character would be. Rewrite #3 saw my two warring kingdoms named. Rewrite #4 (or is it #5 now?) was 20,000+ words in before I solidified the real-world influences for the primary cultures.

The plot sprung from the mental image of a girl on a horse finding and saving the life of an injured man on a forested mountain. From there, I determined the terrain and primary kingdoms, established a time line of kings and wars, and eventually settled upon the political turmoil the plot is set against. I knew it would end in a war but the hows and whys remained elusive for an embarrassingly long period of time.

Where there is war, there is some form of military.

The kingdom known informally as the Valley is influenced by Vikings and medieval Russia. I will say right now, there are no horned helmets or excessive use of fur.

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They were the easiest army to develop, with clans held loosely together by a regional government who in turn answered to the king. They provide one of the largest export of grain and textiles to the known world, and live content in their own ancient traditions, remaining loyal to king and country in the face of political pressures.

Their hostile neighbor Laylamore was a different story. It was a younger, aggressive kingdom, bristling with industry and foreign commerce, rich in natural ore and stone. My brainstorming kept circling back to Ancient Rome and the sheer efficiency/intimidation of their military. I decided to roll with it and modeled Laylamore’s army after the Roman Legion.

I had to do something to erase images of Hollywood Romans and Vikings, so I picked apart my third major inspiration to give my uniforms an unexpected twist. Enter the Napoleonic wars. I love the look of the uniform. I mean, isn’t it dashing?

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Three historical eras. Two fictional kingdoms. One chaotic mess of inspiration?

I kept Laylamore’s military structure the same as the Roman Legion. The way men enlisted, trained, fought, served, and were discharged stayed pretty much the same. Primary weapons were daggers, short swords, arrows, spears, and they had basic armor-on-leather protection. Titles and specialty occupations within the army didn’t change much, nor did their functions and contributions to society. Legionaries built much of the infrastructure of the regions they traveled through, and all roads truly did lead to Rome.

I was all about the Roman Legion but it was just too Roman for the flavor of my novel. Something needed to give. After I found the picture of Handsome Man in White, I was completely sold on the Napoleonic uniform…except for the musket. That had to go, along with the pompom on the hat and strange fur object attached to the kit. I gave him a spear and a full Roman shield, with a quiver of arrows at his feet, and it was the perfect image. Sharp, professional, and intimidating.

Of course, I can’t draw even a stick person so I have no way of showing how amazing it looks in my head. People can only trust that my Roman-Legion-Viking-Napoleonic-War conglomeration will turn out better than it sounds. I’ve yet to determine the exact uniform colors; shield, banner and crest designs; surnames for pretty much everyone; and if the missing characters are ever found.

It’s all in the details.

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Heather M. Elliott lives in Upstate New York with a phonograph player, sewing machine, and an impressive amount of books. She is an avid reader and history fanatic who has been caught slipping subtle and obvious trivia into her writing. Outside of her two part-time day jobs, she is a radio drama scriptwriter and is currently working on her first novel, a two-book series tentatively named The Dirk of Shan and The Fourth Prince.
She blogs at GreenPen Productions: Adventures in Creative Writing

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Book 1: A young woman’s world collapses as political turmoil brings her country to the brink of war, forcing her to choose between finding the family torn away from her or accepting the family she never knew existed.

Book 2: Someone seems to think she knows the identity of the fourth prince, whom legend says will restore peace, dragging her into a desperate power struggle to gain the kingdom for their own.

World-Building Wonders – A Quick Glimpse of Little Folk

Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find an escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is James Puckett.

Perhaps the main world-building component of my current WIP involves a group of people that are about six inches tall in comparison to most of the rest of the characters. Although the premise for the smaller folks came to me in a dream, there are a couple legends in the Pacific Northwest that helped me fill in some blanks: Artesians were little forest dwellers who supposedly brewed Rainier Beer, and Sasquatch (Bigfoot) originates in a Native American story about a giant figure who lurks somewhere in this area as well.

I was on vacation in a much warmer climate than the Pacific Northwest and just before waking, I vividly ‘saw’ a few little people climbing out from under the dresser in my room. The vision was so impacting to me that I ended up building a story around them.

One unique issue has been that the tenor, timbre and volume of the tiny voices are out of proportion and either deafening (“Why are you yelling?”) or unintelligible . The tiny facial expressions are mostly unreadable (“Sarcasm, much?”) by the big people and I am continually needing to solve the height difference during conversations. Sometimes this is accomplished by the big people lying down on the floor or the little people making their way to a counter top. Just keeping the little people alive in a ‘big people’ world has been difficult, and sometimes (spoiler alert) impossible, since they fall somewhere between a cockroach and an angry squirrel on the food chain.

Something as simple as shrinking a few characters leads to food, clothing and shelter issues as well. I have great respect for writers that invent new galaxies. I am having my work cut out for me by people the size of my hand.

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James Puckett is a carpenter and a construction project manager by day. He lives in a suburban south of Portland,  Oregon with his wife, a nurse,  plus two cats, a dozen chickens and a rescue rabbit. He writes speculative fiction and poetry. He loves the old sci-fi authors, faerie tales, and the American classics: Huck Finn, Last of the Mohicans . . .oh, yeah, and Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. He will soon be editing his current 100k word WIP, Smaller.

World-Building Wonders – Medieval Monastic Orders

Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find an escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is Allison D. Reid.

Since I was a child, the Middle Ages have sparked my imagination, serving as a source of inspiration for my writing.  Though my Christian Fantasy series, the Wind Rider Chronicles, is set in a fictional world, it felt very natural for me to give it a medieval flavor—taking some of the historical elements I find most fascinating and making them my own.

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One of those elements is the existence of monastic orders, and the extremely important role they played in medieval society.  They were the keepers of knowledge, they copied and interpreted Scripture, blessed and preserved sacred relics, served as spiritual and academic learning centers, provided charity to the poor, and healed the sick among other things.  I could not imagine building my fantasy world without a formal institution designed to serve in this same capacity.

Mine of course is not identical to the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, nor do my monastic orders represent any specific ones that existed. My world has its own unique history and religious traditions. The story is allegorical, exploring the lessons and truths of Christianity through the lens of pure fantasy.

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But just like the real ones that inspired them, my monastic orders aren’t perfect. They are run by fallible people, who are doing their best to serve God (Aviad) with their lives, even when they fall short.  I created three main orders, each one tracing its origins back to my world’s creation story, and each with its own special qualities.

Here is a very brief behind-the-scenes glimpse into the main monastic orders influencing my world; the information taken from my own private notes, and not necessarily obvious in the narrative of the books…at least not yet.

The Order of Aviad:

They are the keepers and preservers of ancient spiritual tomes, books of knowledge, music, and liturgy.  They tend to have a more formal approach, guided by the teachings of Aviad’s law.  This order is well known for building great temples and monasteries with lavish materials and decorations.  They rely heavily on wealthy patrons, including lords who wish to become priests or monks, and the royal family, to maintain that level of communal wealth. Their internal power structure is very hierarchical. The priests and monks take vows of celibacy and also of poverty, but the vow of poverty only applies to individuals, not to the order itself.

The Order of Immar: 

They primarily serve their immediate community through charity, healing, and less formal teaching (common songs, parables, plays, etc.) intended to reach ordinary people. Monks from Immar’s Order are not required to be able to read or write. Knowledge is kept alive largely through oral tradition, and there are strict standards in that regard so that teachings maintain their integrity. This order has very few monasteries.  The monks tend to live in small, simple, farm-based communities, and they are well known for their extensive herb gardens and medicinal knowledge. They firmly believe that they must fully support themselves so as not to be a burden on those whom they serve. Striving to be free of all political obligations, they do not enlist patrons for support.  Their poverty vows include communal property, and they keep only what they need to sustain themselves and adequately serve the surrounding area.  Celibacy is required by both men and women who commit themselves to serve this order. There is some hierarchy, but it is mainly on a local level for the purposes of organization and spiritual accountability.

The Order of Emeth:

This order is the most mysterious of the three, the smallest, and the most loosely organized.  There is no hierarchy to speak of, and celibacy is only required of certain groups within this order, not all.  It is devoted to locating and preserving tomes and relics that have been lost to the ages. Truth and righteousness are the focus of their teachings and daily practice.  Ancient writings, prayer, dreams, and visions are all vitally important to this order, much more so than ritual, liturgy, or charity.  They have a heightened awareness of the spiritual warfare going on beyond humanity’s sight.

The Guardians of the Ancients is the most notable sect of this order.  They have recovered and preserved a sizeable number of ancient tomes, relics, and historical items, maintaining secret underground libraries to house them.  To keep the library locations secret, some members of the order have pledged to spend their lives underground, cataloging, preserving, studying, and copying the old tomes.  Others become traveling teachers of the knowledge they contain, preaching and encouraging the population to turn back to the old ways before it is too late.

With the exception of the Guardians of the Ancients, Emeth’s Order does not live in monastic communities.  Neither do they hold land or accumulate wealth, though there is no requirement of poverty.  They are of the belief that it is too difficult to reach the normal population with their message from the confines of a monastery.  They prefer to live among the people as one of them.  Many practice a normal trade, even marry and raise families as they continue to preach.  Those who are called to a cloistered life seek the cooperation of Aviad’s and Immar’s orders, living among their monks in monasteries or small communities, but maintaining their own distinct beliefs and way of life.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this small view of my world building from behind the curtain.  Those who have read my books will no doubt recognize each of these monastic groups as they have made their appearance in the larger story I’m weaving.

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Allison D. Reid is a Christian Fantasy author with a fondness for Medieval history.  Her first published series, the Wind Rider Chronicles, embraces traditional fantasy elements but is also infused with deeper spiritual themes. Learn more about the author on her website https://allisondreid.com or listen to a live radio interview on By the Fireplace. Her first book, Journey to Aviad, is now free in ebook format everywhere.

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Elowyn lifts a strange silvery object from a woodland stream. Is it a medallion? A coin? Looking about curiously, she also finds a helm, a bow, broken arrows…and blood drenched soil. Something terrible has happened in this usually peaceful wood. Her world—the whole world—is about to change forever…

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The Kinship rides victorious into Minhaven, bringing both hope and distressing news. Though its greatest threat has been defeated, a new one is emerging—an enemy not seen for hundreds of years. Has Braeden’s cruel reach followed Elowyn into this remote wilderness? If so, there is no place left to run, and the Kinship is facing an enemy more sinister and powerful than they can possibly imagine.

World-Building Wonders – The Steampunk World of “Tainted”

Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find an escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is Morgan L. Busse.

I was asked to share how I created the steampunk world for Tainted, the first book in my steampunk series, The Soul Chronicles.

Before I begin, I think it is good to define what steampunk is. There are a lot of definitions out there, most of them wordy and abstract. So I took the common elements and narrowed them down to one statement: steampunk is the fusion of our history (usually Victorian Era or wild west) and science fiction/fantasy. The “steam” part comes from advance technology that is run on—you guessed it—steam.

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I like to use the word “fusion” when defining steampunk. Why? Fusion is the process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity. With steampunk, you join the historical genre with the speculative genre and fuse them together with steam-powered technology to create a brand new genre.

So now that you know what steampunk is, let me share how I created my own fused world. For the historical aspect, I went with the Victorian Era. I love this time period because there was so much change that occurred during this era. This is when the Industrial Revolution occurred (perfect for my steampunk technology), many things were in the process of being invented (again, perfect for steampunk), advances and changes in the medical world, women were stepping into the world of higher education and science, and all the advancements of science itself.

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For the speculative aspect, I went with fantasy. The idea for Tainted originally came from an online conversation where someone asked if necromancy could ever be used for good. I had this image of a woman who had been “tainted” by her father’s research, and although it opened her up to amazing power, it also was killing her on the inside.

And thus Tainted was born. But instead of straight up fantasy necromancy, I chose to use science instead, and ask the questions 1) Are there lines we shouldn’t cross in our pursuit of the unknown? 2) What happens if we cross those lines? 3) Does it hurt others?

Kat’s own abilities stem from science as well, namely, the laws of science. She can manipulate matter. This means she can cause things to combust, or move, or cause particles to draw together (forming a solid) or drift apart (creating liquid or state form). She can even cause time to stand still. But humans were never meant to contain such power, and it is killing her soul.

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Lastly, the steampunk technology. I chose to go with a more covert approach instead of flashy, in-your-face technology. Steam technology is part of the everyday world in Tainted, and thus not focused on as much by the characters, in as much we use the coffeepot to make coffee in the mornings, or use our cell phones to connect with other people, but we don’t sit there and gawk at how amazing our technology is. We simply use it. It is part of the background of our lives.

Now some steampunk authors love to build all sorts of cool gadgets and gizmos. Great! I wanted to focus more on the story of the characters and use the steampunk aspect as the backdrop to their story. I think every writer has the freedom to be as overt or covert with their technology as they want to be. And I think it also depends on the story you are writing. If it’s about an inventor, then yes, you’ll probably have a lot of cool inventions. If it’s about a socialite, eh, not so much.

So there you go. To build a world of steampunk, you research your history piece, pulling together what works for your world, including cultural aspects, manners, beliefs, and even fashion. Then you choose if you want a more science fiction or fantasy feel (maybe even both), then tie those into your world. You want magic? Great! You want AI automatons? Great!

Then lastly, have fun coming up with your own unique steampunk technology and decide how covert or overt you want to be with it. Does it take center stage of your book? Or is it the backdrop? And how does it work? Some things you can get away with just showing it in use, but some things readers might want an explanation for, depending on how overt you go with your technology.

Now go forth and write!

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Morgan L. Busse writes fantasy and steampunk for the adult market. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, including Daughter of Light, Christy and Carol Award finalist. Morgan lives on the West Coast with her husband and four children. You can find out more about Morgan at www.morganlbusse.com

Kat Bloodmayne is one of the first women chosen to attend the Tower Academy of Sciences. But she carries a secret: she can twist the natural laws of life. She has no idea where this ability came from, only that every time she loses control and unleashes this power, it kills a part of her soul. If she doesn’t find a cure soon, her soul will die and she will become something else entirely.